At this point in our Baseball Instinct 360°, we come to a significant amount of prospects who are ready to contribute this coming season or will be by the end of the season. Of that group, what stands out at you is the group of righties; Warren, Surkamp, McPherson, Eovaldi, and Lynn. All have a chance to make significant contributions to their respected major league team and bear watching if you are in a deep fantasy league where pitching can be a premium. Farm management and waiver list trolling is a must.
Of course, that’s just a snippet from our Top Prospects 240° to 201°. You’ll find a lot of relevant players throughout the series, as well as many names worth monitoring long term. Take a look below at what we have for you today.
240°. Ronny Rodriguez , SS, Indians, 4/17/1992 – Rodriguez, who signed in 2010, is an athletic SS who is raw defensively at this point. His .246 AVG with 28 doubles, 7 triples, and 11 HR gave him a .203 IsoP, which is impressive for a 19-year-old at any level. While he has speed but isn’t a very good base-runner at this point. When we got the chance to see him, the rawness of his game was apparent but so were the tools. He’s a project but has the tools to become a top prospect. ETA 2015.
239°. Jason Esposito, 3B, Orioles, 7/19/1990 – Espo cost himself about $900k with his decision to go to Vandy and now has to prove he has the power to be a full-time 3B. He has the glove and a good overall game, but does not have a solid plus skill. His ability to play 3B well and handle some 2B makes him an attractive player to be used as a utility IF, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Orioles use him in that fashion. He does enough right in multiple facets to have a good probability of major league success. If he can develop 20 HR power with the wood, he would be a solid regular. ETA 2014.
238°. Brian Goodwin, OF, Nationals, 11/01/1990 – Goodwin took the hard way into the baseball profession going to JuCo out of HS. He didn’t get into game play last year after he signed, and at 21 years old, I’m pretty sure the Nationals don’t want to wait for him to start out in short season Low-A ball. I look for him to start out at Single-A and have some growing pains. He’s potentially an exciting 5 tool player who could be special, but what he has in tools still very much needs to be molded into skills. He could have above average power with above average speed as a possible CF. ETA 2014.
237°. Jackie Bradley, OF, Red Sox, 4/19/1990 – A defense first 1st round Supp pick, Bradley was an expensive sign and doesn’t have a plus offensive tool. But his defense and arm grade out above average to plus, and his speed should allow him to play excellent CF defense. His bat showed signs of real promise in college but he doesn’t project as more than a .270 hitter with little power and just average SB capability. He’s more a “real Baseball” prospect for those of you out there looking with a Fantasy Baseball eye. ETA 2014.
236°. Camden Maron, C, Mets, 1/20/1991 – Maron is a NYC product, trained at The Performance Factory in Farmingdale, NY by hitting guru Joe Francisco. Maron has clearly been an advanced hitter since being drafted in the 34th round in 2009. The Mets took advantage of being able to see the area native more than many other scouting departments. Maron’s walk rates of 14.3%, 11.9% and in 2011 a rate of 15.4% are very impressive for such a young player and when paired with the 13.8% K rate in 2011, you know his contact ability is apparent already. He hit .318 AVG with 8 doubles and 3 HR and has a solid frame for a catcher that should continue to fill out. He could move quickly up this list in 2012 and enter the Mets upper echelon of prospects. ETA 2015.
235°. Ariel Ovando, OF, Astros, 9/15/1993 – Big framed OF with lots of projection. Certainly a player that could fly up this list or fall off in short order. His power projection is there, and despite the high 27.7% K rate, he has a solid approach at the plate. How he matures as a hitter will determine how much he develops the raw power in his bat. He will eventually be relegated to a corner OF spot and his arm may be better suited for RF. So while there is a ton of projection here and he’s an exciting talent for the Astros to have in development, there is a wide range of possible outcomes. ETA 2016.
234°. Slade Heathcott, OF, Yankees, 9/28/1990 – Some people question his character and while he won’t back down from a fight, he’s definitely a gamer with elite skills. Despite his ability to work the count, he has to get that 20% k rate down, especially if he’s going to be successful in the Florida State League in 2012. While we are excited to get a chance to take some video of Heathcott this season, we don’t expect the power to show up until 2013. ETA 2014.
233°. Tyler Anderson, LHP, Rockies, 12/30/1989 – The University of Oregon product is a polished lefty that brings to the majors a low 90’s fastball and an above average change up. It shouldn’t be long before he overtakes Tyler Matzek as the best lefty in the organization. He doesn’t have the upside that Matzek has but he’s certainly less of a risk to bust. He looks like a middle of the rotation starter to us. He should jump into full season ball in the South Atlantic League in 2012. ETA 2014.
232°. Alfredo Silverio, OF, Dodgers, 5/06/1987 – The 24-year-old Dominican got his groove on in 2011 at AA Chattanooga. He posted a triple slash of .306/.340/.542. His 42 doubles, 18 triples (no typo), 16 HRs, and 11 SB are the kind of numbers that get the attention of Dynasty League prospect hunters. He’s going to get a shot at joining the Dodgers this spring, but may ultimately settle in with AAA Albuquerque. Look for him at some point in the season. ETA 2012.
231°. Blake Swihart, C, Red Sox, 4/03/1992 – The top catcher in the 2011 amateur draft, Swihart is very athletic switch hitter who has plus bat speed and a fluid swing from both sides of the plate. The potential is there for him to hit for average and power and to be a solid backstop. There’s a chance with his frame and athletic ability that he gets moved to another position, possibly the outfield. He’s got plenty of time to develop. ETA 2015.
230°. Nathan Eovaldi, RHP, Dodgers, 2/13/1990 – After posting a 6-5 record at AAA in 2011, Eovaldi got into 10 games with the Dodgers, 6 as a starter. While there is talk of him going to the bullpen for 2012, we like what we saw from him as a starter rather than a relief guy. That being said, he’s going to have a prime shot at a job in spring training, put probably would benefit from half a season at AAA. ETA NOW.
229°. Francisco Peguero, OF, Giants, 6/01/1988 – An early knee injury hampered Peguero’s progress in 2011, despite a late season call up to AA where he performed well. He needs to learn how to get on base. His whole game is counting on it. While he doesn’t strike out a lot, but only has drawn 80 walks in a career 1971 at bats. The rubber meets the road in 2012 in the Eastern League for Peguero. He’s either going to figure it out or be nothing more than a 4th outfielder in his career. ETA 2013.
228°. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF, Mets, 8/07/1987 – Captain Kirk as he’s called by the Mets’ faithful, Nieuwenhuis is a baseball rat with strong work ethics and possibly an unfair label as an “overachiever”. Despite shoulder surgery on his left, non-throwing shoulder to repair the labrum, he will get another invite to spring training compete for the CF job with Andres Torres who the Mets acquired in the deal that cent Angel Pagan to the Giants. ETA NOW.
227°. Adam Warren, RHP, Yankees, 8/25/1987 – For the 2011 AAA season, Warren record in twenty-seven starts was 6W-8L, 3.60 ERA, 111 K, 53 Walks and 152.1 innings pitched. We doubt that his pitching style fits Yankee stadium at all. If he sticks with the Yankees he’s likely headed to the pen. He’s got #4 upside, possibly with another team. He should get a look in the majors at some point in 2012. ETA 2012.
226°. Jeimer Candelairo, 3B, Cubs, 11/24/1993 – The very young switch hitter dominated the DSL, producing a .337/.443/.478 slash line that included 50 walks, 16 doubles, and 5 home runs. The jury is still out whether he’s going to stick at 3B or move across the diamond to 1B. He should start the 2012 season in the Arizona League, but the Cubs could be aggressive with him and jump him up to the Northwest League right away. ETA 2016.
225°. Carlos Perez, LHP, Braves, 11/20/1991 – Perez had a bit of a disappointing season in 2011. While he was a bit unlucky with the high BABIP, his over all control and command were not sharp. Keep in mind that he pitched 4 times as many innings (125 at age 19) than he did in 2009 or 2010. He’s plenty young and talented enough to right the ship. After spending a season and a half in Low-A, the Braves may opt to have him tackle the High-A Carolina league as a 20-year-old. ETA 2015.
224°. Zack Cozart, SS, Reds, 8/12/1985 – He was cleared to resume full baseball activities beginning in early December. Cozart suffered a season-ending injury to his left (non-throwing) elbow in mid-July and then underwent Tommy John surgery in August. He’s been rehabbing it for 3 months and should enter spring training as the favorite to win the SS job that he was in the process of taking away from the weak competition prior to the injury. He posted a triple slash of ..310/.357/.467 in 323 ab’s at AAA and .324/.324/.810 in 37 ab’s in the majors. Sleeper alert. ETA NOW.
223°. Jose Iglesias, SS, Red Sox, 1/5/1990 – The highest signing bonus in Red Sox history ($6.25 mm), Iglesias is one of the rare top prospects in the Red Sox farm whose defensive ability far outstrips his offensive capability. He’s aggressive at the plate, and though he keeps his strikeout rate acceptable (58k in 356ab, 385pa), he doesn’t take many free passes (21bb). He could hit for average, but we’re not sure if he’s going to develop much power. The power is going to be the deciding factor on where he hits in the lineup once he arrives in Boston for good. He needs another year in the minors, but that may not happen. ETA 2012.
222°. Chris Archer, RHP, Rays, 9/26/1988 - Archer has a plus fastball that sits in the low 90s and can touch 97mph, and with a plus-plus slider with good tilt and depth, Archer has the stuff to be a frontline starter. He also has a below-average changeup that is usable, but didn’t get to develop it much because he fell behind in the count way too often. He needs 1 more year of minor league work to build confidence, but he may wend up in the Tampa bullpen before the season is over. ETA 2013.
221°. Eric Surkamp, LHP, Giants, 7/16/1987 - Despite mediocre velocity, Surkamp has pin-point control and good movement on his secondary offerings. Though he suffered some uncharacteristic control issues in his major league debut, he did strike out 165 while walking just 45 in 148.1 innings in the minors. He’s going to get a shot at the rotation either out of spring training or there after. ETA 2012.
220°. Jorge Lopez, RHP, Brewers, 2/10/1993 – Lopez throws in the low 90′s and has shown good command in the instructional league and Arizona Summer League (2.45 ERA, 10 K’s in 4 Games Started). Lopez was Milwaukee’s 2011 second round pick signed out of Caguas Military Academy High School in Puerto Rico. He displays good athleticism and command of his pitches. He’s like to jump right into full season ball in 2012 and could be another guy to climb our list quickly. ETA 2015.
219°. Andrew Susac, C, Giants, 3/22/1990 – The number 86 pick in 2011 draft, Susac has average defensive skills but a plus throwing arm. At the plate he’s got good contact skills for a catcher and will offer a little pop. He has the potential to be a pretty good catcher, but we got to wonder where he fits in with Buster Posey in the majors and Tommy Joseph ahead of him in the minors blocking the path. Could end up being trade bait in the Yasmani Grandal fashion. ETA 2014.
218°. Brandon Guyer, OF, Rays, 1/28/1986 – Shoulder problems limited Guyer’s development the first couple seasons of pro ball. He’s got plus speed and his other tools are average. He needs to develop a little more patience at the plate and draw more walks. He turns 26 this month, and his numbers from 2011 will need to translate to the majors this spring better than they did in his 41 at bats late last season if he is to be anything more than a 4th OF. ETA NOW.
217°. Lance Lynn, RHP, Cardinals, 5/12/1987 – Lynn can dial-up his 4 seam fastball to 97-98. Combined with his sinking 2 seam fastball that gets ground outs and hard curveball and he was very successful in the pen. He posted a 3.12 ERA and 40 K’s in 35 innings. Too soon to anoint him as the closer in waiting, but he probably has the most polished and stable stuff in the Cardinals bullpen. He should enjoy a long career as a reliever. ETA NOW.
216°. Benjamin Wells, RHP, Cubs, 9/10/1992 – Wells is a long way off, but a solid sinker/slider combo to go along with a changeup that he is picking up rather quickly, he has the makings of a solid innings eating mid rotation starter. He has a big frame and should be able to hold up to a larger workload. He’s going to take his raw talent and power sinker to Peoria in 2012. ETA 2015.
215°. Elier Hernandez, OF, Royals, 11/24/1994 – Not in ordinary Royals’ fashion, KC shelled out a franchise record $3.1 million for the 5 tool Dominican youngster. A healthy dose of stateside rookie level ball is in his 2012 plans. He flashed a strong arm, defensive awareness, and some raw power in the instructional league. He’s one to watch. ETA 2016.
214°. Sammy Solis, LHP, Nationals, 8/10/1988 – A 2010 2nd round pick, Doesn’t have the ceiling of other Nationals pitchers, however has an excellent chance to reach the majors as a #4 or #5. Solis was shut down during the AFL with a sore elbow that has the team worried. It could just be minor soreness or it could ruin his entire 2012 season. Losing Solis would tax the organization’s pitching depth. He could shoot up the list if the elbow checks out fine. He’s got great makeup. ETA 2013.
213°. Glynn Davis, OF, Orioles, 12/07/1991 – While there isn’t much in the way of power from Davis yet, that 6’3″ 170lbs frame is crying out for additional muscle. He’s displayed it in batting practice and we suspect it will show up eventually. He’s still working on proper weight transfer, but has a good eye for off-speed pitches which bodes well for future success. He has excellent speed in the outfield and should remain a CF in the future. ETA 2015.
212°. Luigi Rodriguez, OF, Indians, 11/13/1992 – Then 18-year-old Rodriguez had little trouble in 2011 at rookie ball, but struggled with a 24.3 % strike out rate at Low-A after a promotion. He’s still very young for the level. Look for this talented young man to make the proper adjustments to get on base and show off his speed more on the base paths this season. He certainly a few seasons away if he’s going to refine the tools into skills and become a complete player. ETA 2015.
211°. Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Braves, 5/08/1990 – The 2011 1st round draft pick is drawing comparisons to Tom Glavine from some, yet scoffs and jeers from others who felt he was over drafted. It’s way too soon to compare Sean Gilmartin to Tom Glavine or even Mike Minor, who added velocity to his fastball in 2011. So far, he’s shown good command in the minors walking just 10 in 52.1 innings and a plus changeup. He should get some High-A or even AA work in 2012 and may not be too far from the majors, but temper your expectations as he projects more of a back of the rotation guy – possibly a #3 – and the Braves have a lot of depth and not much room in the big league rotation. ETA 2013.
210°. Eugenio Suarez, SS, Tigers, 7/18/1991 – This slick fielder is the rare Tiger middle infield prospect that currently shows average to better pop (.176 ISOP in NYP). Right now he’ll just need time to get his feet wet at higher levels. Low-A West Michigan should be his next destination, where there should be a good deal of excitement surrounding this kid. There, we’ll be able to get some first hand analysis and video for this year’s continuously updated 360° Top Prospects list. ETA 2014.
209°. Kyle McPherson, RHP, Pirates, 11/11/1987 – The former 2007 14th round pick displays major league command with his low 90’s fastball and well-timed change up. However, it’s his curve ball that needs more development if he is to have much of a stay in the back-end of the Pirates rotation. He’s going to get an invite to spring training but should end up at AAA. He’s got a good chance of getting some starts in 2012, so keep track of his progress. ETA 2012.
208°. Jiwan James, OF, Phillies, 4/11/1989 – James has elite level tools and a good bet to stick in CF. He needs to draw more walks and cut down on strike outs. Working the count to get on base is going to be key to his success as he’s very fast on both offense and defense. There’s definitely some power developing there and probably needs a couple more seasons in the minors to develop the bat to go with the major league ready glove. It remains to be seen if he gets that time. But it’s a top level organization with serious depth at the major league level. ETA late 2013.
207°. Joe Wieland, RHP, Padres, 1/21/1990 – The lack of dominant stuff limits Wieland’s ceiling. However, with his elite level control he has all the makings of a productive number 3 – 4 in the Padres rotation. The Padres did a great job of finding and acquiring a prospect like Wieland (from the Rangers), that would profile very well in their ballpark. It is easy to underestimate Wieland because he doesn’t have dominate stuff, but he fits so well in this organization. ETA 2013.
206°. Jed Bradley, LHP, Brewers, 6/12/1990 – A lefty out of Georgia Tech, he was the second of Milwaukee’s 2011 first round draft picks. We got a glimpse of him in The Arizona Fall League, but he wasn’t that impressive (1-0, 6.48 ERA , 8 SO, 8.1 IP) probably due to a mild groin injury in the Instructional League. He’ll make his real debut in 2012 with Single-A. The Brewers had no southpaws that thrilled in their farm system so Bradley moves to the top in that category. Jed has good control and throws in the low 90′s. He could move quickly. ETA 2014.
205°. Asher Wojciechowski, RHP, Blue Jays, 12/21/1988 – Wojo was one of the talented pitchers in the group drafted by the Blue Jays in 2010. He’s a break out candidate in 2012 after finishing off the 2011 season with a 7-2 record, a 3.18 ERA, and a 41/8 K/BB ratio in 56.2 innings over his last 10 appearances in the FSL. He’s heading to AA and is worth watching. He could show up in Toronto at some point in 2012. But if that happens he may eventually be relegated to the bullpen. Another full season in the minors would better allow him to stick mid-rotation. ETA 2013.
204°. Roman Mendez, RHP, Rangers, 7/25/1990 – He’s been brought along slowly to this point, but is ready for the kid-gloves to come off after posting a 9-1 win-loss record and a 3.31 ERA in the Sally league during the 2011 season. His arsenal consists of a mid-90’s fastball, a slider that shows plus potential and a developing changeup. That “stuff” was good enough for a sparkly k/bb ratio of 130/45 in 117 innings pitched. He’s still a few years away, but should be ready for the challenge of High-A ball in 2012. ETA 2014.
203°. Henry Owens, LHP, Red Sox, 7/21/1992 - The top high school pitching prospect in SoCal, Owens was drafted 36th overall in the 2011 amateur draft by the Red Sox. Owens throws a fastball that can touch 94mph, but usually sits in the 89-91mph range. He has a curveball that is usually in the low 70mph range with good shape. His changeup shows promise, but it lacks consistency, as he didn’t need to use it much in high school. His deceptive delivery combined with advanced control (for his age) allows his stuff to play up. He should stick around for extended spring training this year and open up right there in the GCL. I wouldn’t be surprised if he moves up to Greenboro before the season is over. ETA 2015.
202°. Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves, 9/04/1989 – Possibly the best defensive infielder in the Carolina League in 2011, Simmons also won the league batting title by hitting .311. There’s some power developing there, and if he puts some muscle on his 6’2″/170lbs frame he may turn into a special player. I suggest watching him closely in 2012 as he could shoot up this chart, assuming that he doesn’t leap-frog the competition for the SS job in Atlanta in 2012. ETA 2013.
201°. Wilmer Flores, SS, Mets, 8/06/1991 – Pegged at #99 on our top 100 list for 2011, while a lot of others had him a little too high for our taste. At barely 20 years old now, he has seemingly been around for ever in the Mets system. He didn’t make the strides from 2010 to 2011 that we had hoped and his Venezuelan Winter League numbers are not encouraging.But he did keep the K rate very respectable and his walk rate improved slightly. He has an idea at the plate but the power that is supposed to be his calling card just has not materialized yet. A low BABIP of .296 in 2011 – Theres still plenty of time and he may very well bounce back in AA. ETA 2014.
Check back soon as we continue with our Top Prospects List and get our baseball geek on. We will also take a look at the top 21 players for each MLB team later this winter. While you’re here, take a look at a recent article from our Prospect Instinct series: Prospect Instinct|Derek Norris and be a step ahead of the game. Also, check out a friend of ours for all of your fantasy sports needs. Fantasy Rundown is updated religiously and is truly an awesome resource. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be. So don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other articles in this series: